House GOP members introduce legislation targeting Russia over Ukraine
House Republicans introduced legislation on Monday targeting Russia over its military buildup near Ukraine as officials from Washington and Moscow meet to discuss the Kremlin’s security demands.
The Guaranteeing Ukrainian Autonomy by Reinforcing its Defense Act, or GUARD Act, would move to bolster Kyiv’s defense capabilities and reject some of Russia’s demands.
President Biden has faced bipartisan calls to take a tougher stance on Russia amid its military posturing, and Republicans have criticized the president for what they call a weak response to the Kremlin.
“This legislation firmly rejects this pattern of weakness that has dangerously emboldened Putin by immediately providing Ukraine with the support it needs to ensure the Kremlin understands a further invasion of Ukraine would come at a terrible cost,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.
“Vladimir Putin must take note that Congress will not stand for the reconstitution of Russia’s sphere of influence nor the abandonment of Ukraine and our other NATO allies and partners in Central and Eastern Europe,” he continued.
The legislation, which is not likely to become law, comes as Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine — sparking fears among the US and European allies that Moscow may be plotting an invasion like when it annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
Moscow has denied such accusations and is demanding among other things that the U.S. and NATO deny Ukraine membership and roll back military deployments.
On Monday, after eight hours of talks in the context of a Strategic Security Dialogue, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told reporters that the U.S. and Russia have a “better understanding” of each other’s concerns.
A meeting of the NATO-Russia Council will take place on Wednesday, followed by a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Permanent Council on Thursday.
The legislation would provide $200 million to bolster Ukraine’s air defense and naval capacities to counter Russian aggression. The U.S. provided $450 million to the country for military assistance in 2021 alone and about $2.5 billion since 2014.
Further, the legislation would impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline within 15 days of its enactment and allow Congress an option to veto a wider range of Russian-related sanctions, including the pipeline.
The bill also targets some of Moscow’s security demands, first by reaffirming reaffirms NATO’s 2008 declaration supporting Ukraine and Georgia becoming members of the alliance. It also rejects Russia’s proposal for neither side to launch intermediate-range ground-launched missiles in Europe.
McCaul was joined by House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Mike Turner (R-Ohio).
They are joined by Reps. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Wisc.), Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.).